Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mystery Solved

A few days ago I went out to the deck to pick 3 ripe tomatoes.  When I got out there, all 3 had been chewed on.  Even a couple of the green ones had been eaten.  I figured it must be a squirrel.  There's one that always gets into our bird feeder.  I also considered the possibility that my next-door neighbor had made a late-night visit to my deck to try my tomatoes.  She had threatened to steal them when she learned we were growing some.  (She loves home-grown tomatoes!)
Last night I went out to check on them again.  This time, not only were the tomatoes all half-eaten, most of the leaves were gone too.  And this huge, yet beautiful, bug was happily munching on one of the green tomatoes.  Isn't he incredible!  He was at least 3 inches long.  As I was admiring him, I saw another one as big as this one.  And another one!  In all, there were 5 huge ones and a baby one. (The first picture is the baby one)
A quick search on the internet revealed that this is a problematic agricultural pest called the tomato horn worm.  They are the larvae of a huge moth called the hummingbird moth (because it is as big as a hummingbird).
My 3 boys wanted to put them in a terrarium and let them transform in their rooms.  I vetoed the idea based on the fact that 1. they probably wouldn't survive (they over-winter in the soil and I didn't think we could recreate the soil and temperature requirements, and 2. I didn't think it would be responsible to release the moths if they did emerge since this is an incredibly damaging insect to tomato crops.
So I got rid of them.  I was labeled a murderer (even though I couldn't bring myself to kill them - they are too big and squishy - I put them in a plastic bag in the trash).  And I'm happy to report that my tomato plant has a bunch of tiny new leaves on the mostly bare stems and even one baby tomato.


rxBambi said...

eeewwwww! And now you want me to eat them suckers? Gross...

JW.BW said...

Hey Barb! Thanks for stopping by our blog! And thanks for the nice comment.
What neat lil animals u found in ur toms! I can't ever bring myself to kill bugs either I usually just relocate them.
Have a great day!

Hit 40 said...

The bugs were lucky you did not unleash agent orange on them!!

McGillicutty said...

eeeewwww too much for me, manic mothphobic, therefore, caterpillarphobic.... I would have had a contract out on them in a skinny minute!! love homegrown toms though!!!!